Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for so...

Title:Little & Lion
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316349003
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:336 pages

Little & Lion Reviews

  • Emily May

    is the kind of book that sneaks up on you. You start reading and it all seems like a fairly quiet story about a sixteen year-old girl coming home from boarding school to see her loving family and supportive friends.

    However, it soon becomes apparent that the book is so much more than it first seems. The author uses this warm, seemingly-average Californian family to explore sexu

    is the kind of book that sneaks up on you. You start reading and it all seems like a fairly quiet story about a sixteen year-old girl coming home from boarding school to see her loving family and supportive friends.

    However, it soon becomes apparent that the book is so much more than it first seems. The author uses this warm, seemingly-average Californian family to explore sexuality, identity, mental illness, racism and particularly everyday microaggressions. It is

    , hitting issues where it hurts but never making this an "issue book", and somehow that makes it all the more powerful.

    Suzette has a very strong voice as we explore her experiences as a black girl, as a Jewish black girl, and as someone just discovering her bisexuality. The book examines all the questions normally thrown at bisexual people -

    - and kicks them in the teeth.

    This is also

    . In recent years, there has been high demand for diverse YA books and authors have responded to that, which is great in theory, and yet I see again and again a straight white character with a group of friends serving as checklist marginalizations, never developed to feel like real human beings. Here, there are characters of all skin colours and sexualities and they all feel so vivid and real.

    I think the key to this is

    . Colbert doesn't provide us with a stock gay character, followed by a stock non-white character, followed by a stock trans character. It feels so much more natural to show all the ways that marginalizations overlap - Suzette is black, Jewish and bisexual, Emil is biracial (Korean/African-American) and hard of hearing due to Ménière’s disease, Lionel is Jewish and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Rafaela is Latina and pansexual.

    In can also say that I really related to some of the feelings Lionel shares about his illness and the way his meds make him feel.

    This is so true. I do not have bipolar disorder, but I have struggled with depression during my life and experienced the foggy feeling of nothingness that can accompany certain drugs. I always appreciate it when characters put into words a feeling I have personally experienced but is hard to explain.

    Honestly, though, if you like YA contemporary that is subtle and clever, never manipulative, and builds relationship dynamics gradually over the course of the novel, it's hard to go wrong with this.

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  • Shauna

    Y'all, you need this book.

    Little & Lion is easily one of my top five contemporary books of 2017. 

    Things I Loved:

    ~Suzette's coming to terms with her bisexuality, navigating crushes on multiple genders, a bi story that isn't f/f but is still bi

    ~The bisexual main character and her lesbian best friend are just friends and have no interest in each other romantically

    ~Suzette's childhood best friend, Emil, is black/Korean & wears hearing aids (and is super adorable, despite wearing boat shoes a

    Y'all, you need this book.

    Little & Lion is easily one of my top five contemporary books of 2017. 

    Things I Loved:

    ~Suzette's coming to terms with her bisexuality, navigating crushes on multiple genders, a bi story that isn't f/f but is still bi

    ~The bisexual main character and her lesbian best friend are just friends and have no interest in each other romantically

    ~Suzette's childhood best friend, Emil, is black/Korean & wears hearing aids (and is super adorable, despite wearing boat shoes and cargo shorts)

    ~There's an amazing treehouse that I want to live in

    ~Suzette's parents are not married, but are fully committed

    ~Black, bi, Jewish main character, all of which are given proper weight and discussion

    ~A complex sibling relationship between Suzette (Little) and Lionel (Lion)

    ~Bipolar representation and the testing of familial bonds

    Things I didn't love: 

    ~The words "he looked nice" are in the same sentence with "he was wearing cargo shorts and boat shoes" 

    ~That's it

    ~It was amazing

    ~I loved it fully

    ~Thank you and good night

  • Book Riot Community

    After a school year away at boarding school, Suzette flies home to California to help support her stepbrother, Emil, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But things take a complicated turn when they both fall for the same girl. Little & Lion is a compassionate, honest examination of integrity and love.

    Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:

    ____________________

    Preorder this right now if you are itching f

    After a school year away at boarding school, Suzette flies home to California to help support her stepbrother, Emil, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But things take a complicated turn when they both fall for the same girl. Little & Lion is a compassionate, honest examination of integrity and love.

    Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:

    ____________________

    Preorder this right now if you are itching for the following: a main character who is black, Jewish, bisexual and lives in an amazingly supportive blended family. Suzette — known as “Little” to her brother Lionel “Lion” — has come home from her boarding school out east after heading out there when her step-brother’s bipolar depression came to a head. It was a way for her to carve her own space and separate herself from his illness. When she spends the summer at home, though, she realizes just how much she loves and misses spending time with him and misses being part of their LA community.

    Colbert’s story highlights the struggles that one individual’s mental health can have on a whole family, but more, it highlights the complexities and arguments that exist for and against medication. It does so with respect to both sides, and offers up a lot of food for thought on how one lives with, rather than against, one’s mental well-being. The depiction of bipolar disorder is so, so good; it will be obvious to savvy readers the subtler ways it’s woven into Lion’s character, but for readers who might not be as familiar, the strings come together in the end. This book ALSO highlights physical health and well-being, through Emil’s — one of Suzette’s potential romantic interests — chronic illness and how it has changed his life.

    But perhaps the thing I loved most about this book is a little thing: Lion is a huge reader, and his story is peppered with book references. If you look closely at the cover, you’ll even see an homage to one of his favorite reading materials, The New Yorker.

    A must-read and easily one of my favorite YA reads…and it will certainly be one of the best YA reads this year, guaranteed. A knock out.

    —Kelly Jensen

    from The Best Books We Read In January 2017:

  • Lola  Reviewer

    LITTLE & LION is a diverse book. I always take the time to mention that, because I am proud to see more and more books being written with people of colour as main characters and LGBT themes.

    Suzette, also known as Little, is a beautiful black girl who is still trying to figure out her sexuality. Is she bisexual, pansexual, queer…? She’s especially trying to find an answer because there’s this beautiful half Black half Asian boy she thinks she may be falling for. But then there’s this girl she

    LITTLE & LION is a diverse book. I always take the time to mention that, because I am proud to see more and more books being written with people of colour as main characters and LGBT themes.

    Suzette, also known as Little, is a beautiful black girl who is still trying to figure out her sexuality. Is she bisexual, pansexual, queer…? She’s especially trying to find an answer because there’s this beautiful half Black half Asian boy she thinks she may be falling for. But then there’s this girl she’s working with that has her heart beating faster, too.

    However, this is a problem for Little, since her bipolar brother, Lion, who has recently decided to stop taking his medication, has a huge crush on the same girl Little likes. She’d rather tell Lion the truth, but she’s afraid this will ruin everything between them.

    I understand that in many cases lying is what seems like the preferable choice, because it allows us to protect the ones we love, but Little’s lying is cowardly. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her flaws, which made her all the more real, and I also loved her vulnerability. But I did not find her truthful. In my opinion, she lies more to protect herself than other people.

    The diversity is great, not only because there are people of colour, a boy struggling with mental illness and one lovely girl (who lies too often!) questioning her sexuality, but because the protagonists actually talk about what it means to be Black, bisexual and mentally ill. I learned more about bipolarity from this book than I did from the dozens of books with bipolar characters I have previously read combined. It’s emotional, instructive and deep.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your preferences, there is no defined plot. There are main events and less important events, but this is more about Suzette finding answers to her questions and rebuilding her relationship with her brother than Suzette going on an adventure or anything of the sort that would allow some action in the storyline. It’s slow, sadly, but the characters are worth getting to know and the themes are well explored.

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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    This was FUCKING AMAZING. A black, Jewish, bisexual main character with a heart of gold. Set in Los Angeles and featuring all of my favorite stomping grounds! Fuck, you guys. YOU GUYS. I have never in my life related more to a main character than I did to Suzette in this book. This was just everything I've ever wanted in a book and more. Throughout the course of this book she deals with so many things that were almost a mirror to my own life and I am just so fucking happy that this book exists.

    This was FUCKING AMAZING. A black, Jewish, bisexual main character with a heart of gold. Set in Los Angeles and featuring all of my favorite stomping grounds! Fuck, you guys. YOU GUYS. I have never in my life related more to a main character than I did to Suzette in this book. This was just everything I've ever wanted in a book and more. Throughout the course of this book she deals with so many things that were almost a mirror to my own life and I am just so fucking happy that this book exists. I'm calling it now, this is my favorite book of the year (or at the very least tied with the Hating Game, ha).


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